New York Mets: Will Steven Matz be a starter or a reliever in 2021?

Andres Chavez
New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz
Jun 28, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz (32) delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets had the worst of lucks when it comes to starting pitching in the condensed 2020 season. They lost Noah Syndergaard for the whole year and part of 2021, and pitchers such as Michael Wacha, David Peterson, Steven Matz and even Jacob deGrom had to deal with some sort of injury.

Speaking of Matz, he was arguably the worst starter in the New York Mets‘ roster this year. In nine games (six of them starts) and 30.2 frames, the left-hander had a ghastly 9.68 ERA with a 7.76 FIP, although his xFIP was a much more palatable 4.15. He was worth -0.7 fWAR in a regretable performance.

However, he should get a free pass, at least to some extent. He was diagnosed with left shoulder bursitis in August, and if you have been following baseball for quite some time, you know that the worst kind of ailment a hurler can suffer would be a shoulder injury.

Matz was so bad as a starter (he had a 10.17 ERA and batters were virtually prime Babe Ruth against him, slashing .342/.388/.703 with a .449 wOBA) that once he returned from his injury, the Mets tried him in an unfamiliar role: as a reliever.

The Mets’ lefty had a home run problem

Things weren’t much better there: he had a 7.20 ERA, and while batters only hit .211 against him, they slugged .684 and had a .376 wOBA. It was clear that, no matter the role, Matz was having notorious issues with the long ball.

For his career, the Mets’ lefty has allowed 1.49 home runs per each nine innings pitched. This year, it was an absurdly high 4.11. His HR/FB is 17.5% in his six-year tenure, but this year, it jumped to 37.8%.

No matter what role he fulfils with the Mets next year, Matz will have to A) show his shoulder is healthy, and B) trim the home runs. For his career, he has a 4.35 ERA, 4.49 FIP and a 4.01 xFIP, and the vast majority of his innings have come as a starter.

What role will the Mets assign Matz next year? It will largely depend on what kind of offseason they have.